Seattle is a robust city filled with world-class retailers like Nordstrom, Starbucks, Amazon, Costco, and more. In the last decade, downtown Seattle has had a steady increase of 38 percent in the retail industry. These brick-and-mortar stores provide more than just products; they provide a distinct shopping experience. If you are a local business owner who wants to start or expand in Seattle, now is a great time to do it.
With 2020’s unpredictable flow of events, customers and business owners alike are looking for innovative ways to cope with this situation. There is no better person to seek ideas from than architects who are knowledgeable in innovative and progressive designs. Before you make the crucial choice, take a look at these top architects. Each firm was ranked based on a number of criteria, in addition to the style and quality of structures built. These variables include work history, client satisfaction, and recognition from various award-giving bodies. Whether you want to update your shop or you’re looking to invest in a new business, there’s an architect on this list that will turn the vision you have for your store into a reality.
Best Practice Architecture
1419 S Jackson St. Suite #14, Seattle, WA 98144
Best Practices Architecture is a full-service architecture and design firm co-led by partners Ian Butcher, AIA, and Kailin Gregga, AIA, LEED AP. Since its inception in 2011, the firm has accumulated a portfolio made up of residential projects and commercial projects. The staff is composed of a close-knit group of passionate, talented architects and designers from all sides of the spectrum. The creativity and enthusiasm of the team transcend into its designs. The firm cultivates a distinct and dynamic design-approach to spaces that each have a unique characteristic. The firm’s projects are nationally-recognized in the US and Canada, and they have been featured in a number of publications for their progressive designs.
The Seattle Times, Pacific NW Magazine, Gray Magazine, DWELL Magazine, Architect Magazine, and Interior Design have all published articles about the firm’s impeccable designs. One of the firm’s retail projects was featured in Dezeen Magazine, ArchDaily, and Leibal for its playful take on perspective and illusions. The Eye Eye optometry store in Seattle was designed by Best Practices Architecture in collaboration with Bellan Construction. The 2,200-square-foot retail store was completed in two phases between 2015 and 2017. It features custom eyeglass display boxes and mirrored surfaces that allow viewers to try on eyewear and see themselves from different angles. The team designed the store to be unique: they studied the inner eye to understand perception and that knowledge informs the project on a deep level.
Board & Vellum
115 15th Ave. East, Suite #100, Seattle, WA 98112
Jeff Pelletier believes that architecture is not limited to a single style, it is an evolving practice you can create diverse and exceptional designs through an ego-free attitude and great service. In 2011, Pelletier founded Board & Vellum, a full-service architectural firm based in Seattle. Pelletier graduated from Cornell University and was among Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 under 40.” Aside from creating aesthetically pleasing designs, the firm integrates its projects with sustainable design principles for long-term advantage. The firm has won several BUILD Sustainable Design Awards for its contribution to sustainability efforts.
Board & Vellum’s portfolio is a culmination of its experiences in designing various projects. A notable and award-winning piece in its portfolio is Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe. The owner of the shop took inspiration from the 19th Century writer Ada Lovelace. Board & Vellum transformed this rundown old house into a small retail shop with a cafe, all while keeping 60% of its original structure still intact. Key elements include salvaging framing lumber for fixtures. The firm wanted to keep the building’s historic character while updating its interior to feature a modern and chill atmosphere. The overall design of the book shop reminds everyone of a book, familiar and comfortable on the outside; crisp, bright, and clean on the inside.
1941 1st Ave. S, Studio #2E, Seattle, WA 98134
Richard Floisand and Allison Hogue co-founded Floisand Studio in 1999 with a focus on partnering with clients and craftspeople to create timeless and dynamic backdrops for life. The firm is based in Washington; its designs both residential and commercial can be found in multiple states. Proving that its designs meet the highest quality standards, most of the firm’s projects come from repeat clients in the commercial sector. The Pagliacci and the Macrina Bakery are just a few of the brands that have trusted the firm to complete multiple stores and office locations.
The Macrina Bakery Aloha located in Capitol Hill in Seattle is one of the firm’s newest projects for the bakery chain. The new neighborhood bakery bridges old and new as it is nestled in the former home of the Surrogate Hostess. The team uncovered an original firewall built in 1925 which was an interesting aspect of this structure along with its heavy timber, joints, beams, and columns. Floisand Studio’s team used these well-aged elements to create an idiosyncratic background for Macrina’s newest bakery.
Graham Baba Architects
1507 Belmont Ave. Suite #200, Seattle, WA 98122
Jim Graham and Brett Baba share a combined industry experience of over 50 years. Their extensive background in design has served as a strong foundation for the team to create vibrant and successful commercial, residential, and art spaces projects in Seattle. In 2007, Graham Baba Architects was born and has since then created award-winning and nationally-recognized works. The Graham Baba team is composed of architecture professionals who are certified with the AIA, IIDA, LEED, and the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Graham Baba Architects’ works have been recognized with the AIA the National Honor Award, the Architizer Award, the AIA Seattle Merit Award, the AIA Northwest & Pacific Region Honor Award, and the AIA Central Washington Honor and Citation Award. The firm has also been featured in The New York Times, Portrait Magazine, Dezeen Magazine, Seattle Eater, Vogue magazine, and Architectural Digest. The Pike Motorworks retail and commercial development in Capitol Hill earned the 2016 NAIOP Mixed-use Project of the Year. The vast space features multiple retail spaces, residential units, and a flexible ground level.
5140 Ballard Ave NW, Suite B, Seattle, WA 98107
We are a group of curious architects who seek to create memorable spaces and places that resonate with those who encounter them. Passionate about seeking authentic relationships in our response to the environment and with each other, we are explorers who design residential, commercial, and hospitality projects that are uniquely tailored to our clients. We foster dynamic collaborations with our clients, consultants, builders, and artisans to develop design solutions that are approachable, responsive to place, and exemplify sophisticated simplicity. Each project is unique, reflective of its setting – whether rural or urban environment, a building, an interior, or a home. Through a varied yet tailored process, we look for ways to explore a project’s potential to create a design built to last generations.
People are shaped by the physical spaces they inhabit. We are passionate about creating spaces and places that enhance human experience and contextual connection. We value design that is responsive to one’s physical surroundings, is culturally sensitive and takes into account the climate and environment as a whole. As a firm, we are committed to creating timeless works that are deeply rooted in their site. A winner of eight prestigious AIA design awards, Heliotrope is dedicated to creating spaces and places of enduring quality and timeless beauty.
Filson was founded in 1897 to meet the needs of prospectors traveling through Seattle on their way to the Klondike Gold Rush, Filson is rooted in over 100 years of Pacific Northwest history. The brand now designs, manufactures, and sells men’s and women’s outdoor clothing, accessories, and luggage. Filson has earned a worldwide reputation for creating a product that is built to last, made in America, and guaranteed for life. Inspired by that ethos, Heliotrope Architects in collaboration with the Filson creative group and an elite team of builders, craftspeople, and fabricators, created a space sharing the same level of quality and integrity as the product Filson sells. Taking cues from inspiration as diverse as Jack London’s Call of the Wild, the mysterious nooks and crannies found in Victorian-era natural history museums, Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and the hyper-scaled images found in the photographs of Darius Kinsey, the elements of the design work together like a timeline bringing the visitor to different moments and places from the Filson storybook.
440 Virginia St., Seattle, WA 98101
Jeff Hummel founded Hummel Architects in 1992. Hummel is known for his expertise in handling complex projects with efficiency and clarity. These qualities, partnered with his ability to connect with people, have built his reputation as a leading architect in the region. Hummel Architects is focused on creating distinctive designs that integrate the concerns of the client, community, and inhabitants in an ideal physical environment to meet and surpass every economic constraint.
The firm is knowledgeable in creating compelling designs for commercial, retail, sports, and entertainment projects. Some of its notable projects are located in Washington and Utah. The Velocity Art & Design retail store in Seattle is just one of its many commercial and retail designs. Other projects include the Mora Iced Creamery, Harnn, Kuni Infiniti, and more.
Jackson | Main Architecture
311 First Ave., S. Seattle, WA 98104
Jackson | Main Architecture is a full-service architectural firm nationally-recognized for its forward-thinking, client-centered, and adaptive design approach. The firms Principals are joined by an equally accomplished team of Associates and staff, all working in a collaborative environment in leading Jackson | Main Architecture projects.
Its portfolio includes project designs for healthcare, industrial, residential, workplace, mission-critical, and commercial-retail. One of its projects in Bellevue is the Marketplace at Factoria. Jackson | Main Architecture provided remodeling design for the 9,400-square-foot building renovation. The design incorporated the existing anchor tenant space while creating a mall opening for the new Ulta, as well as two new storefront entrances and space for an additional mall tenant.
159 South Jackson St. Suite #600, Seattle, WA 98104
Olson Kundig is an international full-service firm specializing in designing progressive, innovative spaces. The firm has won hundreds of awards for design excellence as well as its sustainability efforts. The firm is owned by five renowned and award-winning architects — Jim Olson, Tom Kundig, Kirsten Murray, Alan Maskin, and Kevin Kudo-King. A staff of 175 joins these leaders in the firm’s offices in Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square neighborhood. The firm’s work has been featured in ArchDaily, Dezeen, Dwell, Architectural Digest, Forbes, and the New York Times, among others.
9th & Thomas is a mixed-use project in Seattle’s South Lake Union that houses both retail and restaurants on its ground floor with offices above. Led by design principal Tom Kundig and principal Kirsten Murray, the twelve-story development’s design focuses on adaptability and permeability. Its massing is in the form of a cascading cube where a strong corner positioned is softened with setbacks, exposed terraces, and inset covered terraces on nearly every floor. In recognition of the building’s integrated sustainable design strategies, 9th & Thomas earned a LEED Gold Certification.
SWW Architecture & Interiors
18 Dravus St. Suite #100, Seattle, WA 98109
William Charles Shugart, Shannon Murphy Shugart, Matthew Wasse, George Wickwire, and Christopher Ford are the five AIA certified architects and partners who share a common passion for architecture. The firm’s world-class designs are not possible without its skilled and adept team of architects, designers, staff, and the office pet, Emily. The firm is focused on collaborating with clients to create tailored designs that enhance interactions between people and the space that surrounds them. In addition to its impressive designs, the firm keeps a strong focus on sustainability in all of its work.
SWW Architecture & Interiors works in multiple states and completes some work across international borders as well. Its portfolio is home to several large-scale design projects from mixed-use to retail shopping centers. One notable design under the retail category is the University Village in Seattle. This outdoor shopping center features a diverse mix of locally-owned boutiques, national retailers, and great restaurants. SWW Architecture & Interiors designed the shopping center to be kid-friendly with sculptural fountains, colorful complimentary umbrellas, 120 stores and restaurants, a daycare center, a medical clinic, and spa services.
2333 3rd Ave., Seattle, WA 98121
SkB Architects is a full-service architectural firm founded by Shannon Gaffney, Kyle Gaffney, and Brian Collins-Friedrichs in 1999. The boutique design firm consists of experienced staff who come up with a client-centered approach. The firm aims to balance its design with how people work, play, and shop. Excellent work rarely goes unnoticed, and SkB Architects’s work has been featured in Dwell Magazine, Seattle Magazine, Pacific Northwest, Gray Magazine, and Interior Magazine.
Modern, elegant designs are dominant in their portfolio. The Ben Bridge jewelry retail store is one of its high-end projects in Seattle. The 2,800-square-foot store embodies the elegant jewelry it displays. In 2019, Visual Merchandising and Store Design awarded the design a Retail Renovation of the Year. This particular design will be implemented in all 48 Ben Bridge stores over the next five years.
Suyama Peterson Deguchi
8601 8th Ave., S Seattle, WA 98108
Suyama Peterson Deguchi is an architectural firm founded by George Suyama, FAIA in 1971. Jay Deguchi, AIA joined the firm in 2002 and Chris Haddad, AIA hopped on the team in 2014. These three leaders continue to share the diverse and exquisite design and architectural backgrounds that shaped SPD’s works today. The firm’s works are not only celebrated locally, they have been featured in worldwide publications like Elle Decor Germany, Architect Magazine, and Oma Maja—an Estonian publication. The firm has won multiple awards, including an AIA Merit Award, a Medal of Honor, an Honor Award, and a James Beard Award.
One of Suyama Peterson Deguchi’s repeat clients is N3L Optics, a subsidiary of Oakley Sunglasses. The firm designed a new retail image and prototype store design for the company. The team has designed over eight stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, Utah, and Florida. In 2012, Gray Magazine featured the N3L Optics in one of its articles titled, “One store at a time.”
The Design Collective
2303 W Commodore Way, Suite #205, Seattle, WA 98199
The Design Collective is a collaborative effort-based architectural firm spearheaded by James Blissett in 2007. The firm was founded on the belief that success is a shared responsibility between the team, the client, and other key elements involved in the process. This mindset is carried on in all of the firm’s processes and is practiced from principals to interns to ensure that everyone works cohesively towards the project’s success. The Design Collective is an internationally-recognized firm with several AIA distinctions and a multitude of projects for the residential, mixed-use, cinema, restaurant, and retail sectors.
One of its notable design projects is the 1,663-square-foot tenant improvement for the Proper & Ernest store in Woodinville. The boutique liquor store sought the architecture and interior design services of The Design Collective for the completion of its first store. Its design took inspiration from traditional library decor and the life and travels of the American writer, Ernest Hemingway. The design elegantly blends custom casework with artwork and locally procured antiques.
Upward Architecture & Interiors
815 Seattle Blvd. S Suite #205, Seattle, WA 98134
Upward Architecture & Interiors is a full-service design firm founded by Mark Ward in 2016. Ward is a St. Louis native whose diverse architectural background has been greatly influenced by his work in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco. His passion is not only measured by his great designs, rather his thirst for innovative and grand ideas. Ward’s day-to-day routine includes ensuring that projects are being done efficiently from conceptualization to construction and cultivating professional and excellent working relationships with their clients. He is joined by a design-savvy team who continuously collaborate to create strategic solutions to common design problems.
One of the firm’s first retail projects was a personal design for Mark and Erin Ward. The couple wanted to explore their shared interest in entrepreneurship by creating Ward&Co. Men’s Grooming in 2011. The store aims to help the men of Seattle find the finest shaving, grooming, and skincare products in the area. The 450-square-foot boutique is located in Rainier Square beneath Seattle’s classic Rainier Tower. The firm transformed the old Northwest Airlines ticket counter into a sleek and modern design using white oak, cork, a salvaged Victorian pedestal sink, and reclaimed casework. The goal of the team was to design a timeless and classy boutique that was cost-effective and inviting for the male customer.
Velocipede Architects Inc.
3105 Western Ave. Suite #102, Seattle, WA 98121
Velocipede Architects Inc. is a well-versed architectural firm with projects in Washington and neighboring states. The firm is led by George Ostrow, LEED AP, a registered architect whose career began in Vermont. He is largely active in leading sustainable and eco-building projects. Joining him are two associates — John Novak and Daniela Sofia Casalino. Both architects have a diverse and eccentric background when it comes to architectural design. Novak’s portfolio is filled with restaurants, zoos, and custom homes. Casalino’s taste in art continues to be deeply informed by her past residence in Australia, Turkey, and currently the US.
The Teku Tavern is one of Velocipede Architects’ notable tenant improvement retail projects. The new 4,030-square-foot store serves gourmet beer in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. The brewery presents brew connoisseurs with over 50 draft taps and 27 doors of bottles, a collection curated by the owners. Velocipede provided the design of the seating layout, interior materials, and the lighting direction of the tavern. The focal element is the array of taps set in copper-lined recesses, with menu screens atop, and a slab of black limba wood for the bar top.
2200 Western Ave. Suite #301, Seattle, WA 98121
Weinstein A+U is an architectural practice founded in 1977 by renowned architect Ed Weinstein. It is a 25-person generalist firm with an emphasis on institutional, public sector, multi-family, commercial, and adaptive reuse projects. Having earned numerous design awards for their diverse projects, Weinstein A+U was also the recipient of the 2019 AIA Northwest and Pacific Region Firm Award. Its design focuses on creating spaces that are timeless while simultaneously providing answers to today’s complex building obstacles.
One of the firm’s notable projects is Gregg’s Cycle retail store in Bellevue. The 12,000-square-foot retail store was designed to accommodate a parking lot at street-level and an elevated retail store on the second floor. The two-level retail store is a 30’ tall display window integrating suspended bicycles into the façade. This has become an iconic face of the store and a dramatic effect intensified by the company’s extensive bicycle inventory that hangs from the ceiling. This retail project has been recognized by the Business Week/Architectural Record Good Design is Good Business Award, featured in ArchDaily.com’s Selected Works and Retail Design Blog.